Saturday, March 23, 2013

The 2013 CCHA Championship

As we documented previously, the world of NCAA hockey is on the precipice of an upheaval never seen before, as two new conferences are being created for next season, the Big Ten Hockey Conference and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC).

Both of these new conferences are springing to life at the expense of two existing conferences, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), which will be barely recognizable next season, with only four teams remaining from this season, and the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA), which first saw Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State announce their departure for the Big Ten. This was then followed by Miami of Ohio leaving for the NCHC.

CCHA Logo photo CCHA_logo.png

Those defections set off a series of events which led to first Northern Michigan leaving the CCHA to join the WCHA, followed by Alaska-Fairbanks, Ferris State and Lake Superior State, effectively killing off the CCHA when those three joined the WCHA in August.

All that was left for the three remaining member schools of the CCHA was to find a chair before the music stopped. Western Michigan was put on hold until September, finally being granted admission to the NCHC when they could not secure Notre Dame, who joined Hockey East on October 5th. This happened the day after Bowling Green finally found a home in the WCHA with the other four refugees from the CCHA, which is holding it's final championship tournament beginning today at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, a tournament which dates back to 1982.

2013 CCHA Championship logo photo 2013_CCHA_Tournament_logo.jpg

The CCHA was formed back in 1971 and was comprised of charter members, Bowling Green, the only remaining original member to have played in every season of the league, Ohio University, Ohio State University and St. Louis University. Lake Superior State joined for the league's second season. Ohio University then dropped out for good after just two seasons. Ohio State also departed in 1973 only to return in 1975, and were joined at the time by Western Michigan.

Northern Michigan was next to arrive in 1977, followed by Ferris State in 1979 and Miami University in 1980, brining the league up to seven teams following the departure of St. Louis in 1979.

A dramatic turn of events, which would alter the CCHA landscape for the remainder of it's run came in 1981 with the arrivals of Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan Tech and Notre Dame from the WCHA. The league reached an even dozen in 1982 when the University of Illinois - Chicago became the newest arrival.

The conference then saw a contraction over the course of the next few years, as Notre Dame left after just two seasons in 1983, and both Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan returned once again to the WCHA in 1984.

Old CCHA logo photo OldCCHAlogo.jpg

The CCHA would remain at 9 teams until 1992 when Notre Dame rejoined and the short lived Kent State University program came on board for just two seasons, departing in 1994, one year before the addition of Alaska Fairbanks in 1995.

The final changes in the CCHA saw the Illinois - Chicago program extinguished in 1996, Northern Michigan return once again in 1997 and the University of Nebraska - Omaha arrive in 1999 before leaving after 11 seasons to join the WCHA in 2010.

Teams to have won the CCHA playoffs include Bowling Green (5 times), Lake Superior State (4), Miami (1), Michigan (9), Michigan State (11), Northern Michigan (2), Notre Dame (2), Ohio State (2) and Western Michigan (2).

The NCAA national championship has gone to teams from the CCHA 8 times, with Bowling Green (1), Lake Superior State (3), Michigan (2) and Michigan State (2) taking the top honors while members of the league.

Notable CCHA alumni include Ken Morrow, Glen Healy, Mike Liut, Aaron Ward, Rob Blake, Brendan Morrison, John Madden, Rod Brind'Amour, Doug Weight, Marty Turco, Dan Boyle, Brian Rolston, Duncan Keith, Ryan Kesler and Ryan Miller.


Ryan Miller Spartans photo RyanMillerSpartans.jpg
Current Buffalo Sabres goaltender, Ryan Miller, a former Michigan State Spartan and Hobey Baker winner

Seven times the Hobey Baker Award winner has come from the CCHA, including George McPhee (1982), Kip Miller (1990), Brian Holzinger (1995), Morrison (1997), Miller (2001), Kevin Porter (2008) and Andy Miele (2011).

This season, the Miami RedHawks won the regular season championship over Notre Dame and Western Michigan. The first round of the playoffs saw #6 Alaska Fairbanks upset by last place #11 seed Michigan State, who were normally a league power, as they had only one (barely) sub .500 season from 1982 to 2008.

#7 Michigan, also a traditional league power with winning seasons from 1988 to 2012 under the guidance of coaching legend Red Berenson, eliminated #10 Northern Michigan, while #9 Bowling Green upended #8 Lake Superior State.

Last week's quarterfinals had #1 Miami oust #11 Michigan State, #2 Notre Dame defeat #9  Bowling Green, #3 Western Michigan fall to #7 Michigan and #4 Ohio State defeat #5 Ferris State to advance to this weekends CCHA Championship. #1 Miami will face #7 Michigan for the right to face the winner of the #2 Notre Dame vs. #4 Ohio State for the  Mason Cup, named for the record setting, long time Michigan State head coach and founding member of the CCHA, Ron Mason.

Mason Cup photo MasonCup.jpg

Today's featured jersey is a 1975-76 Bowling Green Falcons Ken Morrow jersey worn by Morrow during the early years of the CCHA while playing for the charter member school of the conference and the only one to have played in the league for every year of it's existence. Bowling Green was also the first CCHA school to win the NCAA national championship, when they took home the title in 1984.

Morrow is one of the CCHA's most accomplished alumni, having won a gold medal with the 1980 United States Olympic Hockey Team as well as four consecutive Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders following his college career at Bowling Green where he was a first team all star three times and CCHA Player of the Year in 1979.

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photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1985-86 Michigan State Spartans Jeff Parker jersey from the NCAA championship team. The Michigan State Spartans hold the record for the most CCHA tournament championships with 11, two more than Michigan's 9.

In addition to their 11 playoff titles, the Spartans have also been CCHA regular season champions 7 times, tied for second with Bowling Green for second behind Michigan's 11, and NCAA national champions three times, twice while as members of the CCHA.

Michigan State 1985-86 jersey photo MichiganState1985-86F.jpg
Michigan State 1985-86 jersey photo MichiganState1985-86B.jpg

For more on Spartans jerseys, please visit msujerseys.com.

Friday, March 22, 2013

2013 KHL Gagarin Cup Playoffs Update

While the NHL season has barely reached the halfway point, the Kontinental Hockey League is already deep into the Gagarin Cup Playoffs.

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The Gagarin Cup

In the Western Conference, SKA Saint Petersburg (Sporting Club of the Army - Saint Petersburg), winners of the Bobrov Division as well as the Kontinental Cup as regular season champions with 115 points, was the #1 seed and drew Atlant Moscow Oblast, the #8 seed with 73 points. SKA advanced to the conference semifinals winning 4 and losing just 1.

#2 seed CSKA Moscow (Tarasov Division champions with 96 points), led by Alexander Radulov's KHL second best 68 points in 48 games, swept the Czech team Lev Praha (Prague) in four straight games. Defending champions Dynamo Moscow (101 points) and #3 seed, gave another foreign-based team, Slovan Bratislava of Slovakia, the same treatment and ousted them in four as well.

gagarin cup photo: Dynamo Moscow 2012 Gagarin Cup DynamoMoscow2012GagarinCup.jpg
The 2012 Gagarin Cup champions, Dynamo Moscow

The first upset of the playoffs came when #5 Severstal Cherepovets (85 points) defeated the reborn Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (92 points), who returned to the KHL after being forced to miss the previous season in the wake of the air disaster that claimed the lives of the entire team who were on their way to their opening match of the 2011-12 season. Severstal prevailed 4 games to 2.

Over in the Eastern Conference, #1 Ak Bars Kazan (Kharlamov Division winners with 104 points) faced #8 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (77 points) and advance easily with a 4-0 sweep. #2 Avangard Omsk (Chemyshev Division winners with 102 points) had a far more difficult time and needed the full seven games to oust Sibir Novosibrisk 4 games to 3.

Unsure at one point if their arena would be fit for use after sustaining damage late in the season when the region was struck by a meteor from outer space, Traktor Chelyabinsk (98 points) were able to host the playoffs as scheduled and also needed the full seven games to defeat Barys Astana of Kazakhstan 4 games to 3.

The third series in the east to go the full seven games was #5 Salavat Yulaev Ufa upsetting #4 Metallurg Magnitogorsk, whose roster boasted 2013 KHL scoring champion Sergei Mozyakin but were certainly missing the departed NHLer Evgeni Malkin, who finished third in season long scoring  with 65 points in 37 games despite missing 15 games of the KHL season when he returned to the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL.

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Malkin starring for Magnitogorsk

The teams were then reseeded for the Conference semifinals with #1 SKA Saint Petersburg, led by leading scorer Norwegian Patrick Thoresen, sweeping #5 Severstal Cherepovets in four straight in the west. In a battle of Moscow clubs, #3 Dynamo took care of their historic rivals #2 CSKA 4 games to 1 to advance to face Saint Petersburg in the Western Conference Finals.

Meanwhile, in the Eastern Conference, #3 Traktor Chelaybinsk had an easy time in their 4 games to 1 defeat of #2 Avangard Omsk. In the other series, #1 seed in the east Ak Bars Kazan and leading scorer Nikolai Zherdev and the evergreen Alexi Morozov outlasted Salavat Yalaev Ufa in the only series of the round which went the full seven games, which left the other three winners plenty of time to rest and recover.

The Conference Finals get underway today when SKA plays Game 1 against Dynamo, with Game 2 quickly following tomorrow, the same day Ak Bars and Traktor take to the ice to begin their Eastern Conference series to determine which of the two will play for the Gagarin Cup.

Today's featured jersey is a 2012-13 SKA Saint Petersburg Ilya Kovalchuk jersey as worn by the NHLer early in the season while the NHL lockout was still in effect. Up until mid-January of 2013, more than 40 NHL players, the majority of them Russians, such as Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin.

KHL rules stipulated that teams could add up to three NHL players, with only one non-Russian allowed. These limits were put in place in order to to prevent an excessive amount of Russians losing their places on their teams as well as avoiding an over-reliance on NHLers, as KHL officials knew the NHLers were a short-term prospect, confident that the labor dispute in North America would be concluding at any time.

While in most leagues 66 seasons and no titles to show for it would be a cause for ridicule, not unlike baseball's Chicago Cubs, but the tilted system of Soviet hockey in favor of perennial champions CSKA (Central Red Army), 32 titles in 46 years and 13 in a row from 1978 to 1990, takes some of the heat of SKA as few, if any, clubs other than perhaps Moscow Dynamo were winning any championships either.

Still, SKA has never even made the finals and has not seized the opportunity of a more level playing field in effect since the demise of the Soviet Union, unlike Dynamo Moscow, Lada Togliatti, Ak Bars Kazan, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, Avangard Omsk and Salavat Yulaev Ufa and , who have all won multiple titles since 1992.

SKA does have some hardware to brag about though, having won the Spengler Cup four times, 1970 and 1971, 1977 and most recently in 2010. Domestically, the were runners up in the Soviet League Cup in 1968 and 1971 and took third in the league championship in both 1971 and 1987. With a trophy case that bare after over six decades of play, Saint Petersburg will be motivated and hungry to capture this year's Gagarin Cup and now find themselves just seven wins away from their ultimate, and long awaited, goal.

Of note, with the expansion of the KHL beyond the borders of Russia, the league no longer customizes player jerseys with the names on the back in Cyrillic, changing to English in 2011-12.

Russia SKA Saint Petersburgh 2012-13 jersey photo Russia-SKASaintPetersburgh2012-13F.jpg
Russia SKA Saint Petersburgh 2012-13 jersey photo Russia-SKASaintPetersburgh2012-13B.jpg

If you would like to purchase a Kovalchuk SKA Saint Petersburgh, or any other KHL jersey of your very own, please click the link below to get in touch with our sponsors ProRussianJerseys.com. They have jerseys worn by many of the NHL stars who played in the KHL during the lockout earlier this season. Think how you would stand out at games with your own authentic KHL jersey of players like Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Bãcström. Kaspars Daugavins, Sergei Bobrovsky, Zdeno Chara, Pavel Datsyuk, Alexander Semin, Pekka Rinne, Evander Kane, Semyon Varlamov, Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar, Nail Yakupov or Victor Hedman.


Pro Russian Jerseys, Pro Russian Jerseys

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The 2013 WCHA Final Five

As we documented previously, the world of NCAA hockey is on the precipice of an upheaval never seen before, as two new conferences are being created for next season, the Big Ten Hockey Conference and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. Both of these new conferences are springing to life at the expense of two existing conferences, the Central Collegiate Hockey Conference, which will cease to exist after 42 seasons, and the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, which will be barely recognizable next season, with only Alaska - Anchorage, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech and Minnesota State remaining from this season, as six new members, five as refugees from the CCHA plus independent Alabama - Huntsville, join to create a heavily altered WCHA.

wcha photo: WCHA Logo wcha_logo.jpg

With those massive changes to the college hockey landscape, the faithful of both leagues will gather one final time to celebrate the history and tradition of their leagues, as they both hold their final league playoff championships this weekend, the CCHA at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit and the WCHA at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

The WCHA Final Five (which curiously features six teams) gets underway today with the quarterfinals at 2:00 Central when the #5 seeded Minnesota State Mavericks (making their first Final Five appearance in ten years) takes on the #4 seed Wisconsin Badgers followed by the #6 Colorado College Tigers, who pulled off the only upset of the first round playoffs last week when they eliminated the Denver University Pioneers (#13 nationally), facing the #3 University of North Dakota, who used to be the Fighting Sioux but are currently without an official nickname.

The winner of the early game will advance to take on the #1 seed St. Cloud State Huskies, fresh off their first MacNaughton Cup championship in school history, in the first semifinal on Friday at 2:00, followed by the second semifinal winner meeting with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, who shared the league championship with St. Cloud State and are currently the #1 ranked team in the nation in the USCHO.com poll, thanks to their undefeated 8-0 run through their non-conference schedule, which included wins over Michigan State (2), Canisius, Vermont (2), Air Force, Boston College and Notre Dame.

The two semifinal winners will meet on Saturday night in the championship game at 7:00 with the winner being awarded the Broadmoor Trophy.

WCHA Final Five photo WCHAFInalFive.jpg

The WCHA was formed in 1959, although the core group of schools came together back in 1951 in the old Midwest Collegiate Hockey League. Those first members were Colorado College, Denver, Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota and North Dakota.

With the formation of the WCHA proper in 1959, a post season tournament began each season, with games played at campus sites. The WCHA expanded in 1966 with the arrival of Minnesota - Duluth, 1969 when Wisconsin joined and again in 1971 when Notre Dame was added.

That lineup lasted until 1981 when Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan Tech and Notre Dame all departed for the CCHA, only to have Michigan Tech rejoin the WCHA, bringing Northern Michigan with them.

1987-88 saw the creation of a single-site four team final tournament, held in St. Paul, but at the previous St. Paul Civic Center, built in 1972 as the home of the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the World Hockey Association and known for it's clear boards.

1990 saw St. Cloud State join the WCHA, boosting the league up to now 10 teams, which led to the championship tournament expanding to five teams and adopting the name Final Five in 1992-93. Alaska-Anchorage joined the league in 1993. Northern Michigan left the WCHA in 1997 only to be replaced by Mankato State, now Minnesota State, in 1999.

After a period of stability, both Bemidji State and Nebraska - Omaha joined the league in 2010, which led to a now six team Final Five, which retained the name due to the schedule now consisting of five games.

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The WCHA jersey display at the Xcel Energy Center

Since it's creation in 1988, the tournament has been held in St. Paul, first at the Civic Center for six years before alternating with the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from 1994 to 1998. The Target Center in Minneapolis was host in 1999 and 2000 prior to the tournament returning to St. Paul for the first time since 1997 in 2001 with the completion of the brand new Xcel Energy Center, home of the NHL's Minnesota Wild, where it has remained through today, as it brings together some of the most passionate, dedicated fans of some of the fiercest rivals in a three day festival of exciting, dramatic hockey and chanting, singing and cheering fans that is not to be missed, which sadly will never be the same again.

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The WCHA Final Five at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center

Through 2012, absent Denver has won 15 tournament championships, Minnesota 14, North Dakota and Wisconsin 11 apiece, Michigan Tech 9 (with the last being back in 1981), Minnesota - Duluth 3, departees Northern Michigan 3 and Michigan State 2, with Colorado College and St. Cloud State each having won once.

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Denver celebrates their Final Five title in 2008

WCHA members have won a record 37 national championships with 28 runner-up finishes, including the famous 2005 NCAA Frozen Four, at which all four teams were from the WCHA when Denver prevailed over North Dakota, Minnesota and Colorado College.

NCAA national champions from the WCHA include Michigan, with 9 total and 6 coming as members of the WCHA, Denver and North Dakota with 7 each, Wisconsin 6, Minnesota 5, Michigan Tech 3, Colorado College 2, Minnesota - Duluth 1 and both Northern Michigan and Michigan State each with 1 while a member of the WCHA.

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The most recent WCHA national champions, the Minnesota - Duluth Bulldogs in 2011

Noteworthy are the 15 winners of the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the top player in American college hockey, to have come from the WCHA in the award's 32 year history, beginning with the very first winner, Neal Broten back in 1981. Subsequent winners from the WCHA include Tom Kurvers (1984), Bill Watson (1985), Chris Marinucci (1994), Junior Lessard (2004) and Jack Connolly (2012) from Minnesota - Duluth, Tony Hrkac (1987) and Ryan Duncan (2007) from North Dakota, Robb Stauber (1988), Brian Bonin (1996) and Jordan Leopold (2002) also of Minnesota, Peter Senja (2003) and Marty Sertich (2005) of Colorado College, Matt Carle (2006) from Denver and Blake Geoffrion (2010) of Wisconsin.

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The first Hobey Baker winner, Neal Broten

To date over 400 players from the WCHA have gone on to play in the NHL, including such recognizable names as Glenn, Anderson, Red Berenson, Neal Broten, Chris Chelios, Dave Christian, Kevin Dineen, Bret Hedican, Brett Hull, Reed Larson, Scott Mellanby, James Patrick, Mike Ramsey, Gary Suter and goaltenders such as Ed Belfour, Tony Esposito, Curtis Joseph, Chico Resch and Mike Richter to go along with current stars Jonathan Towes, David Backes, Phil Kessel, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Dany, Heatley, Thomas Vanek, Matt Carle, Erik Johnson, Paul Stastny, Blake Wheeler, Matt Greene, Ryan Malone, Travis Zajac, Paul Martin, Mike Commodore, Drew Stafford, Matt Cullen, T. J. Oshie, Joe Pavelski, Keith Ballard, Matt Niskanen, Derek Stephan, Brian Elliot and Matt Read.

Today's featured jersey is a 1986-87 University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux Tony Hrkac jersey from the season he set the single season NCAA scoring record of 116 points, which still stands to this day.

This classic Fighting Sioux jersey is clearly derived from the traditional Chicago Blackhawks jersey, only with the Blackhawks red replaced by the Fighting Sioux green and with the "C" in the secondary logo replaced by an "S".

A much beloved style among Fighting Sioux fans, this style was first used in 1978 and lasted through 1993 when political correctness resulted in a "North Dakota word mark" style for a couple of seasons until stylized "geometric" Indian head was employed. While today's featured style came into being in 1984, the use of the "Blackhawks" crest dates back to 1971.

Hrkac was the leading scorer in the NCAA during the 1986-87 season and helped North Dakota win the national championship that same season while wearing today's featured jersey. His outstanding season was recognized with the 1987 Hobey Baker Award.

For the most complete history of North Dakota jerseys online, we highly recommend Sioux-Jersey.com.

North Dakota Sioux 1986-87 jersey, North Dakota Sioux 1986-87 jersey
North Dakota Sioux 1986-87 jersey, North Dakota Sioux 1986-87 jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1991-92 University of Minnesota Golden Gophers Larry Olimb jersey. Olimb holds the WCHA career record for Most Games Played with 1982 over the course of his career from 1988 to 1992. Olimb is also fifth in Minnesota scoring history and ranks first in career assists, even more impressive when you consider he played the majority of his games on defense.

The Golden Gophers began wearing the block "M" in 1972 and it has remained a constant on their home and road jerseys ever since, with only the odd alternate or throwback style opting for something different, and even then several of their gold third jerseys have also featured the block "M" as well.

For a look at the history of Golden Gopher jerseys, we suggest both GopherHockeyHistory.com and VintageMinnesotaHockey.com.

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Minnesota Gophers 1991-92 jersey photo MinnesotaGophers1991-92B.jpg

Today's video section tries to capture the excitement of the WCHA Final Five, beginning with a commercial promoting this year's tournament, the final one for the league as we know it.


Here, Blake Wheeler of Minnesota scores the most famous, unexpected goal in Final Five history.


Here, North Dakota fans make an annual event out of the Final Five.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

1966-67 Boston Bruins Bobby Orr Jersey

Bobby Orr, a defneseman and considered by many to be the greatest player in the history of the NHL, was born in this date in 1948. Although he was signed by the Boston Bruins at the age of just 14 (prior to the implementation of the NHL Draft), league rules at the time dictated that Orr could not play in the NHL until turning 18. He bided his time playing for the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League and, in his final season in junior hockey, scored 94 points in 47 games, an average of two points per game, an unheard of average for a defenseman.

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Orr had first came up to the Bruins in 1966, and simply revolutionized the position of defense with his end to end rushes and attacks, previously unheard of by players of his position. He benefitted from playing in Boston Garden, where the rink was 9 feet shorter than a standard rink, getting him from one end of the ice to the other that much faster.

Bobby Orr Rookie camp
Orr, wearing #27 during his first NHL training camp

He would win the Calder Trophy during his first season with the Bruins after scoring 41 points in 61 games. He would miss nine games late in the season with a knee injury, foreshadowing the injury problems that would plague his career. Prior to Orr's arrival, the Bruins had missed the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons and, while they would not make the post-season during Orr's rookie season, they would make the playoffs in every subsequent season of Orr's career in Boston.

Bobby Orr Rookie
Bobby Orr during the 1966-67 season

Despite only playing in 46 games of the 1967-68 season, Orr would win the first of eight consecutive Norris Trophies. Back on track in 1968-69, he would play in 67 games and top 20 goals for the first time with 21 and total 64 points.

Orr would explode the following season, scoring 33 goals and adding a whopping 87 assists to total 120 points, six short of the league record and become the first and only defenseman to lead the NHL in scoring, which would net him the Art Ross Trophy. Additionally, he was named the winner of the Hart Trophy as league MVP. The Bruins would advance through the playoffs, eventually winning the Stanley Cup in overtime of Game 4, a goal captured in an iconic photograph of Orr flying through the air like a superhero in celebration. 


Bobby Orr 1970 photo BobbyOrr1970Flying.jpg

Following the playoffs, he would be named the recipient of the Conn Smythe Trophy, making him the first player to win four major NHL awards in the same season.

Orr SI cover, Orr SI cover

He would top that mark in 1970-71 with an astounding 139 points, still the all-time record for a defenseman nearly 40 years later. In comparison, the first modern offensive defenseman Doug Harvey's top offensive season was in 1956-57 when he scored 50 points on 6 goals and 44 assists and his highest ever goal total was merely 9 in 1957-58 in comparison to Orr's top season of 46 and five separate seasons of more than 30.

His 139 points included a league leading 102 assists, 26 more than the next closest player, and earned him a second place finish in the scoring race behind Bruin's teammate Phil Esposito while winning the Hart Trophy for the second time. Orr would record a plus-minus rating of +124 that season, an NHL record that still stands today.

After the Bruins Stanley Cup triumph at the conclusion of the 1971-72 season, Orr underwent knee surgery on June 6, removing several bits of cartilage and some bone spurs, causing him to miss the Summit Series with the Soviet Union in September. Once healed from the surgery, Orr was healthy enough to play in 63 games of the 1972-73 season, which included setting a new NHL record for career points by a defenseman, passing Harvey's 540 points in 1,113 games.

Orr Stanley Cup photo OrrStanleyCup.jpg

Orr went on to surpass the 100 point mark for the fourth of six consecutive seasons with 29 goals and 72 assists for 101 points, finishing second in team scoring to Esposito. Orr would play in the NHL All-Star Game and would win the Norris Trophy for the sixth of eight times.

The Bruins would return to the finals in 1973-74 following a regular season in which Orr would score 32 goals and 90 assists for 122 points followed by another 18 points in 16 playoff games.

Orr Bruins 73-74, Orr Bruins 73-74
Orr in 1973-74

Orr would once again win the NHL scoring race in 1974-75, capturing the Ross Trophy for the second time after a career high 46 goals, becoming the first defenseman to ever score 40 goals, combined with 89 assists for 135 points. He would be named to the NHL First All-Star Team for the eighth consecutive season, win his eighth consecutive Norris Trophy, play in his seventh NHL All-Star Game and win his first Lester B. Pearson Award.

His multiple knee surgeries would catch up to him, limiting him to only 10 games of the 1975-76 season. While essentially playing on one knee, Orr would compete for Team Canada in the 1976 Canada Cup, earning rave reviews and being named tournament MVP in the last hurrah of his storied career.

Orr 1976 Canada Cup photo Orr1976CanadaCup2.jpg
Orr playing the last great hockey of his career during the 1976 Canada Cup

A move to the Chicago Black Hawks followed for the next two seasons but he totaled just 26 games and 27 points in 1976-77 and 1978-79.

His final career totals are 657 games played, 270 goals and 645 assists for 915 points after ten seasons in Boston and the two in Chicago. At the time of his retirement, Orr was the leading defenseman in NHL history in goals, assists and points. The only players who have averaged more points per game than Orr are Wayne GretzkyMario Lemieux and Mike Bossy - all forwards.

Orr's speed, acceleration and creative offensive ability, combined with his toughness and defensive skills revolutionized the position of defense and changed the game forever. He also moved beyond the world of hockey, becoming a mainstream celebrity in the United States.

Orr advertisement, Orr advertisement

While we have given you a brief overview of the game-changing career of Bobby Orr, entire books are devoted to his career and the impact he had on the NHL, and we here at Third String Goalie recommend Searching for Bobby Orr.

Today's featured jersey is a 1966-67 Boston Bruins Bobby Orr jersey as worn during Orr's rookie season. This particular jersey recently sold at auction for $191,200, clearly putting it in the upper echelon of historic hockey jerseys, as the sale price currently ranks third behind only the $1.27 million for Paul Henderson's 1972 Team Canada jersey and $250,000 for a Wayne Gretzky jersey. A 1974-75 Orr jersey is the only other jersey to ever sell for over $100,000 when it sold for $115,000, giving Orr two of the top four places.

When purchasing a Bobby Orr Bruins jersey, please be aware that Orr did not wear his name on the back of any Boston Bruins jersey during his career, with the only exception being when they were temporarily added for national TV games, as was the practice back then. Quite often Orr jerseys are sold on ebay or other online stores with Orr's name incorrectly on the back of the jersey, as if his iconic #4 wasn't enough.

Even during Orr's first season in Chicago no names were used on the back, making just the final six games of his career with the Black Hawks in 1978-79, a sad and unfortunate end to a great career and not exactly worthy of recreating for your collection, and the 1976 Canada Cup the few times Orr regularly wore his name on the back of a jersey outside of the NHL All-Star Game.

Boston Bruins 67-68 jersey
Boston Bruins 67-68 jersey

While we could post 100 videos of Orr in action, but believe this one captures the dominance of Orr's game. Simply amazing what a complete player he was.



Next is the Legends of Hockey profile of Bobby Orr which includes footage of his famous Stanley Cup winning goal, scored on this day in 1970.



 
  
  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

1991-92 Detroit Red Wings Vladimir Konstantinov Jersey

Vladimir Konstantinov, born on this date in 1967, first caught the attention of North American scouts during the famous brawl during the 1987 World Junior Championships. "He was the only one of the Russians who fought back," recalled scout Neil Smith.

Konstantinov, a defenseman, specialized in getting opponents off their game. "I don't need to score the goal. I need someone to start thinking about me and forgetting about scoring goals."

His career begain with the Central Sports Club of the Army (CSKA), or "Soviet Red Army", in 1984-85 as a 17 year old, playing in 40 games that season, which concluded with the usual championship for Red Army. Success continued for Konstantinov the following season with another Soviet League Championship as well as gold medals in both the 1986 World Junior Championships and the World Championship. Not a bad way to start one's career by going four for four with two national championships and a pair of gold medals.

Konstantinov CCCP photo KonstantinovCCCP.png

1986-87 saw another championship with Red Army and the attention getting participation in the massive brawl at the 1987 World Juniors. The 1987-88 season ended with the expected fourth Soviet League championship, followed by his fifth consecutive Soviet championship and his second gold medal at the World Championships in 1988-89.

There was one other event that would change the course of Konstantinov's career, being selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the twelfth round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft 221st overall. Keep in mind that this was still the time of the Soviet Union, and it was never certain that any player from a communist country would ever be allowed to come to North America and play, but with the older Sergei Pryakhin being allowed to play in the NHL just prior to that year's draft, it was worth the risk with a late pick to select a Soviet player just in case.

While the run of Soviet Championships came to an end in 1990, Konstantinov scored 14 goals and 13 assists for 27 points, by far his highest offensive output while with Red Army, and he collected his third World Championship gold medal. One final season in the Soviet Union concluded with a bronze medal at the World Championships.

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With the break up of the Soviet Union and players now being allowed to choose to play in the NHL, Konstantinov now came to North America to join the Red Wings where is physical nature fit in well with the North American style of play. Eventually, his frequent use of his stick on opposing forwards would earn him the intimidating nickname of "Vlad the Impaler". It must have been an adjustment for the former Soviet League players to now participate in a regular season over 30 games longer before even facing a potential 28 additional playoff games.

Fortunately for Konstantinov, Sergei Fedorov had been playing in Detroit for a year already to help guide him through the adjustment to life in the Motor City. Konstantinov made a good account of himself though, with 33 points in 79 games played, plus an additional 11 playoff games.

Two more seasons with 22 points in 82 games in 1993 and another 33 points in 80 games in 1994 saw seven more additional playoff games each season helped establish Konstantinov as an NHL regular and a reliable and rugged force on defense.

The Red Wings made a deep playoff run in 1995, making it all the way to the finals, which helped prepare the Red Wings for what was to come.

With the arrival of Vyacheslav Fetisov in the summer of 1995 and Igor Larionov just before the start of the 1995-96 season, the Red Wings unleashed something new on the rest of the NHL, The Russian Five.


Capturing the President's Trophy with the best regular season record during the regular season, the Red Wings made it as far as the Western Conference finals, adding to their playoff experience and hunger for a championship. Konstantinov's 14 goals that season were his highest NHL total and his four goals and five assists for nine points in 19 playoff games were more than double his playoff scoring for any other season of his career.

Konstantinov set a career high during the 1996-97 season with 38 points as the Red Wings finished third in the Western Conference. They blitzed the competition during the playoffs, wining the Stanley Cup with a record of 16-4 during four rounds to capture the first Stanley Cup for the Red Wings since 1955 and adding even more hardware to Konstantinov's trophy case, which already included five Soviet Championships, three gold medals and one bronze medal at the World Championships and a gold at from the World Juniors.

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Konstantinov celebrating with the Stanley Cup in 1987

Tragically, on Friday, June 13th, 1997 the Detroit Red Wings held a golf tournament and dinner for many of their players and staff six days after sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers to win the Stanley Cup. Afterwards, Konstantinov, Fetisov and team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov were riding in a limousine when the driver, whose license has already been revoked, fell asleep while driving. With the car now out of control, it crossed three lanes of traffic and struck a tree. The accident left Konstantinov and Mnatsakanov each with serious head injuries. Fetisov was also hurt, but his life was not in danger.

It would take five weeks for Konstantinov to emerge from his coma, barely aware of what was going on around him. He faced a long road ahead of him, over the next year relearning basic skills such as recognizing friends and family, eating and operating a wheelchair.

The following season the Red Wings wore a "VK & SM" patch with the word "Believe" in both English and Russian to honor Konstantinov and Mnastsakanov as they emotionally captured their second consecutive Stanley Cup.

To this day Konstantinov still needs a walker to assist him in getting around, but has made remarkable progress from where he once was. His number 16, while not officially retired by the Red Wings, has not been worn since.

Today's featured jersey is a 1991-92 Detroit Red Wings Valdimir Konstantinov Turn Back the Clock Jersey. As part of the celebrations of the NHL's 75th anniversary in the 1991-92 season, the Original Six teams, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Montreal and Toronto, all wore a Turn Back the Clock jersey from their past at various times throughout the season.

The success of the Turn Back the Clock jerseys would inspire both the NFL and NBA, with teams in those leagues also wearing throwbacks to celebrate their 75th and 50th anniversary seasons, but credit must be given to the Chicago White Sox, who wore the first throwback jerseys during the 1990 MLB season.

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konstantinov 91-92 B

Here, Konstantinov delivers a thunderous hit in the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals.


Next, Konstantinov sends Claude Lemeiux flying with a hip check.


Here is a brief profile of "The Russian Five" from early 1996.


In one of the most memorable moments in NHL, if not all of sports, history, Steve Yzerman presents the recovering Konstantinov with the Stanley Cup in 1998.


Here is an update from ESPN on the remarkable, but decidedly incomplete, recovery Konstantinov has made that was originally aired in April of 2009. For more on the story, click here.


Monday, March 18, 2013

1914-15 Vancouver Millionaires Hughie Lehman Jersey

This past Saturday night, March 16, 2013, the Vancouver Canucks paid tribute to the only team from Vancouver to have ever won the Stanley Cup, the 1914-15 Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association.

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David Booth displays the Vancouver Millionaires jersey worn by the Canucks

The PCHL was created in 1912 by brothers Frank Patrick and his brother Lester Patrick, fine players in their own right. Thanks to their family fortune amassed in the lumber business, the Patricks not only founded the league, but constructed new arenas in both Victoria (capacity 4,000) and Vancouver which seated a staggering 10,000 fans, with both arenas complete with artificial ice making capabilities. In comparison, in 1911 the arenas of the established National Hockey Association in the populations centers back east were The Arena in Ottawa at 4,500 and the Montreal Arena with 4,300 seats.

The brothers then formed three teams for their fledgling new league, the New Westminster Royals, the Victoria Cougars (which was operated by Lester) and the Vancouver Millionaires, which was run by Frank.

The league then began to stock their rosters by raiding the rosters of the established clubs back east, luring Harry Hyland away from the Montreal Wanderers, Tommy Dunderdale away from the Quebec Bulldogs and no less than Newsy Lalonde away from the Montreal Canadiens, who would be placed on the Millionaires roster along with Tommy Phillips, who had won a Stanley Cup with the Kenora Thistles back in 1907 - all future Hockey Hall of Famers.

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A rare look at Newsy Lalonde in a Millionaires sweater

Lalonde and Phillips were placed on the Millionaires roster along with Frank Patrick, who was still a long way from hanging up his skates. Lalonde would win the PCHA scoring title with 27 goals in 15 games played, with Frank fourth at 23, Sibby Nichols sixth with 19 and Phillips next with 17.

The Millionaires would finish second in the evenly balanced league with a 7-8 record.

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The inaugural 1911-12 Vancouver Millionaires

While Lalonde would return to the Canadiens, the Patricks responded by luring the biggest draw in hockey, Fred "Cyclone" Taylor to the Millionaires for the 1912-13 season. Carl Kendall would lead the Millionaires in scoring with 16 goals in 16 games, good for second in the league behind Dunderdale and closely followed by Frank Patrick's 15. Taylor and Fred Harris of Vancouver would finish with 14 goals, tied for fifth in the league with Lester Patrick of Victoria.

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Cyclone Taylor in his first season with the Millionaires of 1912-13

The Millionaires would again finish second with a 7-9 record, behind Victoria rather than New Westminster this time out.

For 1913-14, the innovative Patricks would introduce the blue line to hockey and Taylor would lead the Millionaires in scoring, fifth in the league with 18 goals in 15 games as Vancouver trailed the pack with a 6-9 record. Still, Millionaires players Nichols, Harris and new arrival Didier Pitre (from the Canadiens) tied for 7th in scoring, each with 13 and Frank Patrick tenth with 10.

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The 1913-14 Vancouver Millionaires

Following the PCHA season, the Victoria Aristocrats then became the first team from the PCHA to be allowed to challenge for the Stanley Cup, giving the league the level of credibility it desired.

The 1914-15 season saw the Millionaires take the league title for the first time with a dominant 13-4 record backstopped by new goaltender and future Hall of Famer Hughie Lehman, which earned them the right to take on the Ottawa Senators for the Stanley Cup. With the Millionaires enjoying a home ice advantage in the series, the easily won the best-of-five by scores of 6-2, 8-3 and then a triumphant 12-3 to become the first team from the west coast to win the cup. Lehman would then remain with the franchise for the remainder of it's time in Vancouver.

Aside from Taylor, Lehman and Frank Patrick, other notable members of the 1915 Stanley Cup champion Millionaires included Hall of Famers Mickey MacKay, Barney Stanley, Frank Nighbor and team captain Silas Griffiths. Not a bad ratio having 7 Hall of Famers on a roster of 11 players!

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The 1915 Stanley Cup Champion Vancouver Millionaires

Going forward, the Millionaires Gordon Roberts would lead the PCHA in scoring in 1916-17, Taylor in 1917-18 and 1918-19, Jack Adams and MacKay would go 1-2 in 1912-22 and Art Duncan in 1923-24, the final year of the PCHA.

The Millionaires would win the PCHA playoffs in 1918, losing in the Stanley Cup Finals in the deciding fifth game to Toronto 2-1, win the playoff again in 1921, again losing in the deciding fifth game 2-1, this time to the Ottawa Senators, who were now members of the new National Hockey League, which replaced the old NHA.

In 1921-22 the Millionaires again won the PCHA playoffs and then defeated Regina of the Western Canada Hockey League for the right to face the Toronto St. Pats, who outlasted the Millionaires 3 games to 2.

For the 1922-23 season, the Millionaires changed their name to the Vancouver Maroons but continued their winning ways, taking not only the regular season title, but the PCHA playoffs as well. They then lost to the Ottawa Senators 3 games to 1 for the right to face the WCHL champions for the cup.

The Maroons won their fourth consecutive PCHA playoff title, but lost to first Calgary of the WCHL and then to the Montreal Canadiens.

The remaining two teams of the PCHA, Vancouver and Victoria, joined the WCHL, now just the WHL for the 1924-25 season as the PCHA was no more. The Maroons finished 5th out of 6 that season and came to a sorry end in 1925-26 with a last place finish in their final season.

The WHL folded following the 1925-26 season and the contracts of the Maroons players were purchased by the NHL, closing the door on the Vancouver Millionaires story. It would be 44 years before top level professional hockey would return to Vancouver with the arrival of the Vancouver Canucks in 1970.

Today's featured jersey is a 1914-15 Vancouver Millionaires Hughie Lehman jersey. The Millionaires sweaters went through some subtle changes during their history, but essentially retained a maroon jersey with a bold, white V on the front for their entire run. The peak of the sweater history came in 1914-15 when the bold V on the front included the word Vancouver contained inside, paired with multi-strpied arms, which coincided with the peak of their on-ice success when they won the only Stanley Cup of their existence.

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Bonus jersey: Today's Bonus jersey is a 2008-09 Vancouver Giants throwback 1915 Vancouver Millionaires jersey as worn on November 21, 2008 when the Giants held a "Stanley Cup Legends Night". The Millionaires won their only Stanley Cup in 1915 wearing the original version of this jersey.

Vancouver Giants

Today's featured video is a departure from the norm, a music video featuring photos and archival footage of the Vancouver Millionaires as part of a music video for a song entitled "The Vancouver Millionaires".


Our next video is a report of the Canadian junior team the Vancouver Giants wearing throwback 1915 Millionaires jerseys in 2008, including cream colored hockey pants. Good stuff!


Finally, highlights of the Vancouver Canucks game from Saturday, March 16, 2013 when they wore the Vancouver Millionaires jerseys in honor of 100 years of hockey in Vancouver. In honor of the occasion, the grandson of Cyclone Taylor was present to drop the ceremonial first puck.


  
  

 

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